Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch hints there could be MORE sackings at the Post Office after boss Henry Staunton was ousted ‘amid row over compensation scheme for wrongly accused ex-postmasters’

Kemi Badenoch has hinted that there could be more redundancies at the Post Office after former chairman Henry Staunton was sacked following a row with the government over the Horizon scandal.

Mr Staunton, who had been in the £150,000-a-year role for just over a year, received a call from the business secretary yesterday afternoon telling him he would be replaced.

They have agreed to ‘separate by mutual consent’ and an interim will be appointed ‘shortly’, the Department of Business and Trade said.

Ms Badenoch did not rule out more people being removed from their jobs at the scandal-hit Post Office.

Asked on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips if there would be further resignations from the board of directors, she said: ‘I will make no further comment on personnel changes. I think we should do it in a civilized way.’

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch appeared on Sky's Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips where she hinted that there could be further redundancies at the Post Office

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch appeared on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips where she hinted that there could be further redundancies at the Post Office

The chairman of the Post Office, Henry Staunton, was sacked yesterday after a row with the government over the Horizon scandal

The chairman of the Post Office, Henry Staunton, was sacked yesterday after a row with the government over the Horizon scandal

There has been tension between Mr Staunton and the Government over plans to push through legislation to quickly compensate the wrongly convicted sub-postmasters, The sun reports.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters are awaiting compensation despite the Government’s announcement that those who have had convictions overturned are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

Ms Badenoch said today: ‘It just didn’t work’ when asked why Henry Staunton could not continue as chairman of the Post Office.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg program and asked what her concerns were about Mr Staunton as chairman of the Post Office, Ms Badenoch said when she took up her role she focused on three things: “getting the money out the door’, ‘make sure it’s fair’, and ‘look at the management around the Post Office’.

About the latter, she said: ‘This is where my decision that we need a new chairman of the organization was important. It just didn’t work.’

She added: ‘There were several disagreements within the board. And when I looked at it, I thought that a change of personnel was what was required.

‘I don’t want to do HR on live TV, these are people we’re talking about. It is very difficult to be asked to step down from a position.

‘But I decided that, given all the problems the Post Office was having, it wasn’t just about Horizon, it was about the whole business model, how we make it work, that we needed someone who could chair a board be able to handle these things effectively.’

Mr Staunton only took up the post at the state-owned company in December 2022, after nine years as chairman of WH Smith.

Ms Badenoch said yesterday that she ‘felt there was a need for new leadership’ at the Post Office when it was announced that outgoing chairman Henry Staunton was stepping down.

The business secretary said: ‘The Post Office is rightly under an increased level of scrutiny at the moment. With this in mind I felt there was a need for new leadership, and we parted ways by mutual consent.’

One insider reportedly claimed there had been a number of tensions between the Post Office chairman and the government in recent months.

The search for a new chairman will come as the government aims to push through legislation that would compensate hundreds of sub-postmasters wrongly convicted of offenses such as fraud.

The government is reportedly looking to give the role to a Whitehall insider in a bid to strengthen the Post Office’s corporate governance.

Analysis by The Mail on Sunday of 101 taxpayer-funded contracts reveals that more than 40 government departments, quangos and local councils have combined £2bn of deals with Fujitsu – even after a High Court ruled that its Post Office software was bugged was with bugs.

Staunton received a call from Ms Badenoch telling him he would be replaced

Staunton received a call from Ms Badenoch telling him he would be replaced

Ms Badenoch made the media rounds this morning and was also on the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme

Ms Badenoch did the media rounds this morning and was also on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme

Ms Badenoch said she 'felt there was a need for new leadership' at the Post Office when it was announced outgoing chairman Henry Staunton was stepping down.

Ms Badenoch said she ‘felt there was a need for new leadership’ at the Post Office when it was announced outgoing chairman Henry Staunton was stepping down.

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data supplied by the computer system

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data supplied by the computer system

Since December 2019, when Mr Justice Fraser found that ‘bugs and defects’ posed a ‘significant and substantial risk’ to sub-post offices, his software packages have been snapped up across the public sector.

And Kemi Badenoch said she ‘definitely’ expects Fujitsu to pay compensation over the Horizon IT scandal.

The business secretary said she had written to the chairman of the company asking for meetings but he was based in Japan so ‘it’s not that simple’.

She told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: ‘I certainly expect that will happen in time… Previously we have waited until the end of the investigation and it is important that we get to the end of that investigation to know what has to happen.

‘But Fujitsu is part of this, they are very much part of this story, it’s not just Post Office management, and I hope they will do the right thing.’

The Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015 when the Post Office wrongly prosecuted 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for incorrect data supplied by the computer system – or one a week.

While the public inquiry into the scandal has been ongoing since February 2021, it returned to the headlines this year due to a hit ITV dramatization of the scandal – Mr Bates v the Post Office.

The drama starred Toby Jones as the titular character Alan Bates, the former postmaster who instigated the court case that led to the ruling that the scandal was a miscarriage of justice.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters are awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those whose convictions have been overturned are eligible for £600,000 in payouts.

Mr Staunton’s departure comes amid frustration in Whitehall over the company’s management, including a row over the prospective appointment of a new senior independent director, Sky News reported.

The government apparently wants to appoint a Whitehall insider for the role, while Mr. Staunton and a number of colleagues allegedly favored Andrew Darfoor, one of the company’s existing non-executive directors.

Insiders told the store that Mr. Staunton’s exit is not directly related to the Horizon scandal itself.

A government spokesman said yesterday: ‘In a telephone call earlier today, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade and Henry Staunton, chairman of Post Office Limited (POL), agreed to separate by mutual consent.

“An interim will be appointed soon and a recruitment process for a new chair will be launched in due course, in accordance with the Management Code for Public Appointments.”